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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Writing History: Theory and Practice (PGHC11336)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course explores the theory and practice of writing up and disseminating historical research at the professional level. The course will introduce students to the historical profession and prepare them - in practical as well as intellectual ways - to work on their own dissertation projects. By the end of the semester, students should have a good idea of what professional historians do, and should be prepared to start doing it themselves.
Course description Designed for first-year PhD students, the course encourages reflection on the critical issues involved in writing history: the epistemology of our discipline, past and present; the historical development of new perspectives on the past; the selection and interpretation of sources, both qualitative and quantitative; the use of theory and methods from other disciplines; the mechanics of constructing an historical argument; the art of literary presentation; and the practicalities of getting published. It also explores alternative methods of dissemination, including conference presentations and engagement with social media.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a detailed and critical command of the body of knowledge the key aspects of professional historical writing
  2. Demonstrate an ability to analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship concerning historiography and new approaches to historical research
  3. Demonstrate an ability to understand and apply specialised research or professional skills, techniques and practices considered in the course
  4. Demonstrate the ability to develop and sustain original scholarly arguments in oral and written form by independently formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence considered in the course
  5. Demonstrate in group discussions originality and independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers; and a considerable degree of autonomy
Reading List
Oliver Daddow, 'The Ideology of Apathy: Historians and Postmodernism', Rethinking History, 8:3 (2004), 437-57

Richard J. Evans, In Defence of History (London: Granta, 2000), esp. introduction and ch.1.

Eric Foner, Who Owns History? Rethinking the Past in a Changing World (New York: Hill & Wang, 2003), preface and ch.1

Francis Haskell, History and Its Images: Art and the Interpretation of the Past (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995)

Eric Hobsbawm, On History (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1997)

Richard Howells and Robert Matson, Using Visual Evidence (London: Open University Press, 2009)

Lynn Hunt (ed.), The New Cultural History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989)

Kelley, Donald R., Frontiers of History: Historical Inquiry in the Twentieth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006)

Iggers, Georg, Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1997)

Jordanova, Ludmilla, History in Practice, 2nd edn (London: Hodder Arnold, 2008)

Arnaldo Momigliano, The Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990)

Peter Novick, That Noble Dream: Objectivity and the American Historical Profession (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsPhD writing history theory practice
Course organiserProf Diana Paton
Tel: (0131 6)50 4578
Course secretaryMrs Lindsay Scott
Tel: (0131 6)50 9948
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